2015 Year in Review

Christmas#1

2015 has been an amazing year.

As a family one of the greatest joys we’ve had this year has been joining the Launch Team for Hartford City Church.  This is a new church plant of the Evangelical Covenant Church, East Coast Conference.  Our mission is to glorify Jesus Christ and bless the city of Hartford.  The vision of the church is to participate in and experience God’s Beautiful Restoration in Hartford, CT (and beyond), Isaiah 61:1-4 is our seed verse.

Esther is in 3rd grade and doing great!  She loves her friends and is kind and caring.  She and Naomi are on the same indoor soccer team this Winter. Her favorite part of this year was taking our various trips to Old Sturbridge Village, with family and friends.

Naomi is in 1st grade and is also doing fabulously!  She is more quiet than Esther but just as sweet and kind.  She loves playing soccer with her friends from school and town.  Her favorite part of 2015 was having a play date with her friend Cam.

Matt has seen a busy year for work but he continues to grow in his position at Aetna and has a great team to work with.  He began brewing his first beer in January and made a few more batches over the year.  Ever the connoisseur, he was pleased with some and decidedly unpleased with others.  May brought knee surgery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon (it had ripped off his knee cap).  Matt’s surgery and recovery have been smooth and better than expected.  2016 will hold a return to running and golf for Matt, as both were put on hold during recovery.

Carey began 2015 by finishing her radiation treatment in January.  Over the summer she finished her Herceptin infusions and celebrated one year of having no evidence of cancer (aka remission).  There have been some setbacks this Fall with reconstruction, caused by an infection that brought a week at Hartford Hospital and removal of the implant used to reconstruct the right side (cancer side).  This means that 2016 will be the year in which Carey finishes reconstruction.  In the midst of the Fall’s challenges Carey began serving with MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) as a Ministry Coach, working to support and assist the MOPS groups across CT and into NY.  Carey experienced the support and friendships that come from MOPS groups and communities and is very excited to be beginning to give back to this organization.

We have certainly had our challenges this year, but we have seen God’s hand carrying us through each day and challenge.  As people seeking to follow Jesus we know that Life will always have challenges, they are what shape us and build our character as well as our hope.

Our prayer for 2016 is that God would continue to draw us close to Him, that He would give us the strength and grace to meet each new challenge.  Our world can seem so dark at times, whether it is the individual challenges we face or the broader global challenges facing humanity.  We pray that 2016 would be a year that brings Hope, that as we celebrate the birth of Christ we would be reminded of the Hope that He came to give us.  As we go into the new year may we love and care for those around us with strength, humility, and grace, just as Christ did.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love the Penneys

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Chemotherapy

I’m a few days into my chemo treatment and, in my opinion, things are going well. I’m not feeling real great but, I could be feeling far worse.  I began blogging about this experience in part for a way of processing through things, in part so we could easily keep people up to date on how we are and what is happening, and in part because I believe in living authentically with a transparency that allows others into my life.  This isn’t something that comes easily, that whole being vulnerable thing is scary and risky but I’ve come to believe that it’s the best way to live.  So, I’m writing this post because chemo is crappy and I’m feeling really crappy and I know that we have so many friends, family, and strangers praying for us that I want to ask for prayer because there is power in prayer.

Chemotherapy is a pretty amazing medical development, it’s a set of drugs that targets the fast growing cancer cells in the body and it kills them (YAY!!!).  The downside comes with the fact that cancer cells are not the only fast growing cells, mucus membranes, our GI track, hair, skin all have fast growing cells.  So chemo patients often will experience hair loss, skin issues, mouth and throat sores, GI issues, etc.  I’m in the midst of experiencing several of these issues and though these are going on I need to note that overall I feel alright, I have some energy and I don’t feel like zombie (yay!).  That said I’ve been having some pretty severe headaches (migraines) these have not been particularly responsive to the meds that I’ve been taking thus far.  I have the mouth sores, these are annoying and so completely weird to me, they aren’t really painful but they are uncomfortable and totally impact my sense of taste (big sad face), I’m also realizing I need to be careful what I eat to avoid making them worse; there’s something going on with my GI track as my throat feels tighter (I can feel my swallowing more than normal) and my stomach is more easily upset, note on the throat, it’s not closing just tight.   Along with that is some general body pain, it seems to be kind of set up like an alarm clock and if I’m up past 9:30pm the pain kicks in, so I’ll be going to bed earlier.  Lastly, in a stroke of awesomeness the nausea has not been too bad, the exception being when I decide that I don’t need my anti-nausea meds, rookie mistake that I won’t make again.  We have an appointment with my oncologist on Monday, she calls it her “are-you-alive” appointment, and will be asking about all of the above things, there are some treatments that can help and some may just be part of chemo, either way I feel certain the chemo will kill the cancer and not me. 🙂

I am not sharing this because I want sympathy or a pity party, I don’t, I still hold to the thought that I’m tolerating the meds fairly well and that things could be a LOT worse.  I share this info because I know many of you are carrying us in prayer and these are specific ways you can pray for us, specific needs that we have right now.  For those that don’t pray you can hold us in your thoughts and wishes.  My Father-in-law shared a passage of the Old Testament with me that I’ve been holding to as I’m walking this, it’s from Isaiah 43
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Thank you for walking with us, for caring for us, and for supporting us!!  We have a ways to go but we’re down one treatment and almost a week closer to being done, and in the scheme of life, this is a very short period of time.  We have TONS to be grateful for and plenty to laugh about, and we are overwhelmed with HOPE.

Love, Hope, and Laughter to you all!!

Christmas Past

Can you believe that Christmas day has past already??  I am a believer in stretching the celebration out so I like to be Christmas-y for a while after (and of course before).  We don’t typically celebrate the Epiphany but that is another good way to stretch the holiday.

Our Christmas was fantastic!  We got our Littles two Bitty Babies (1 each) from American Girl.  I am very impressed with the overall quality and the speed of delivery.  This was the gift I was most excited to give.  And boy, oh boy, were they well received!  Our eldest likes baby dolls and we had planned on giving her a Bitty this Christmas, but our youngest likes baby dolls even more and while she is a little on the young side (at least officially) we decided to do one for each.  It was definitely the right decision.  In only one had received a Bitty we would be in treaty negotiations for a long time.

Here are pictures of the Littles opening their babes.  Catch that joy!!

We could not get the box open quickly enough for her. Thankfully we didn't need a sawzall to open the box.

She really realy wanted me to see this fantastic gift! "Mommy, kiss baby! Kiss baby!"

Welcome to the tundra

Well, tundra might be an overstatement.  But we had family visiting us this weekend from Dubai so when compared to Dubai I’m pretty sure that our 23-34*F felt like they were in the tundra.

While my cousins were here we visited, ate yummy food and went to Boston.  We live about 1.5 hours out of the city and we had yet to take our Littles into Boston.  Matt and I have gone into the city since having the Littles, mostly for Red Sox games.  We both LOVE Boston, the history, the character, the sports teams, the culture, the museums, and so on.  I can’t think of a reason not to visit with the girls but for some reason they have never been.  Thankfully that has been amended.

We went to the Boston Children’s Museum, http://www.bostonkids.org/, all the littles had a fantastic time (my cousin has two of her own).  Then we went to, wait for it… La Famiglia Giorgio, only the best Italian restaurant in the North End,  http://www.lafamigliagiorgio.com/.  Really, if you frequent (or in-frequent) the North End check this restaurant out, they’re great.  We also walked through the New England Holocaust Memorial (breathtaking, http://www.nehm.org/) and Faneuil Hall (quintessential Boston).  We had a great time.

On their last night with us we had a big family supper.  That means, 8 adults and 7 kids (6 of which are under 4).  Again a great time was had by all.  Here are some pics of the festivities.

Fun in the bubble room

The shadow family and the butterflies

shadow family 2

Another shadow family and more butterflies

Walking around the North End

Kirsten & Martin at Boston's Christmas tree

The bouncing 3 year olds

More bouncing and giggles

All the Littles in one frame!!

“Christmas Bells”

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Amen.

All dressed up and nowhere to go… but backwards

So would that make it “Somewhere to go but nothing to wear”?

Truthfully I have something to wear but not the thing that I want to wear.  Why is that?  I am selective in the clothing purchases and try to pick things that will have good uses, etc.  I have plenty of clothes.  So why do I feel as though I don’t?  Hmmm… Thats a topic for another post.

I have a Christmas party tonight.  A party with some of my lovely mom friends from the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group that I am part of.  The leadership team is having a “ball gown” party with a gift swap.  I have the gift, I have wrapped it in a lovely fashion (literally) and I just need to figure out how to wrap myself.  I’m a little short on ball gowns these days but I’m sure that there’s something hanging around that I can have some fun with.

With Christmas upon us here’s a wrapping tip that I learned from a friend.  Socks make wonderful little wrappings for wine bottles, small candles, pretty much anything that is less than 3″ in diameter.  Use a new pair of socks, take one and either put it in the toe of the other or use both on the bottle or jar.  Tweek it around a little, add a ribbon and there you have it, a fashionably wrapped gift.

Off I go to find some wrapping so I can go to the ball.  Where is my fairy godmother??  Or better yet, where did I leave my wedding dress??

 

UPDATE: I dug out a dress from my closet that I have used for weddings pre-kids.  It worked wonderfully!  Especially since the group was all women.  I need to do some sewing to it before I wear it again.  The soiree was wonderful and we all had a great time, now to find my pjs.

Littles and Lights

I love my Littles (AKA kids).  I love that they put almost all the ornaments on the Christmas tree today (note I actually succeeded in washing the carpet, Matt put up the tree).  Little 1 has been working to teach Little 2 how to turn the lights on and off, we have a nifty pedal switch that I got a while back, and at 17 months she is doing quite well.  This morning it was decided that the girls would put the ornaments on the tree.  Literally, all of the ornaments were put onto the lowest 12 inches of the tree and in less than 1/4 of the circumference.  One poor branch had (maybe still has) 8 ornaments on it.   I’m pretty sure that Little 1 thinks we’ll be asking them to put them away so this is a work saving technique.  A work saving technique that I am fine with.